Miserable weather on its way

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 16:22 26/07/2012
Mt Hutt dawn July 26
Supplied

DAWN: New light breaks on a fresh dump of snow at Mt Hutt.

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Skifields will welcome next week's storm system, but for much of Canterbury it is looking like a miserable spell of weather.

Otago and Southland have had a dry July, and skifields are crying out for snow. From Monday until at least Thursday, their prayers should be answered.

A large low-pressure system is predicted to develop in the central Tasman Sea on Sunday and become blocked there for four or five days by other weather features.

East to southeasterly winds around the system's southern side are forecast to bring heavy rain and lowering snow levels to Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.

However, there is some good news - the next three days should be mostly fine and dry, with morning frosts. A chilly easterly breeze could bring low cloud at times.

MetService spokesman Dan Corbett said it was ''early days'' for pinpointing where the worst weather would be.

''The last two lows from the Tasman Sea have been more or less blocked by the high pressure to the south, so the southern half of the South Island has stayed dry. But this one looks like it will descend further south over the island,'' he said.

''The other issue is the cold air that comes into the mix, with a risk for snow, as well as heavy rain and gales.''

The low pressure would dominate the week and bring some much-needed snow to South Island skifields, Corbett said.

Mt Hutt is celebrating after a fresh snowfall and cooler temperatures allowed more snow-making.

The skifield has recorded nine centimetres of snow since Wednesday afternoon. The snow-making team has boosted efforts during the drop in temperatures.

Ski area manager James McKenzie said he was delighted to see the real thing. 

"While we have been keeping the mountain topped up with snow-making, it's great to see the real stuff. It brings a real lift to the ski area,'' he said.  

"It's a brilliant day today and conditions really couldn't be better leading into the weekend, and the forecast for next week is looking great for more snow." 

Many Canterbury skifields have been struggling with a lack of snow.

Temple Basin has been closed to skiing and snowboarding for the past nine days because of a lack of snow.

Manager Martin Toon said the weather had been unusual, with rain washing away much of the snow that had fallen to date.

"We haven't had enough snow for three weeks other than a skiff the other night, " he said.

"All the skifields are scratchy. Hopefully we get a good top-up soon."

The Mt Dobson skiefield, near Fairlie,  remains closed, with only 10cm of snow.

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